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What Does “Flattering” Mean Anyway?

When discussing fashion, the word “flattering” is thrown around a lot. You should be wearing clothes that “flatter” your figure. You should pick colors that “flatter” your skin tone. You should wear sunglasses that “flatter” your face shape. You should. You should. You should.

A lot of the advice on how to wear more flattering [fill in the blank] seems to be about figuring out ways to make women appear smaller. Admittedly, a lot of women either wholeheartedly believe or are trained to believe that they should look smaller so they follow these guidelines for “flattering” clothes.

But what if you like fashion that resists the idea of “flattering” for something else? Maybe you’re just trying a fun silhouette and for you, it’s an artistic expression more than just an outfit.

Alysse Dalessandro recently published an article on Bustle about breaking the rules of fashion as a plus size woman and perhaps the most prescient of her points is that you should wear what makes you feel good. She doesn’t pander to what she thinks people want to see. Ever. She wears what she wants completely unapologetically. Crops tops, body chains, bikinis – everything that plus size women are told to avoid she embraces. 

Flattering is just a term that we use to hem women in, to limit their choices and to have a prescribed look that doesn’t offend society.

For me, as someone with a fairly slim build and no real defined waist I’m supposed to choose clothes that give me shape. Unfortunately, I’m currently in love with dresses that are weirdly androgynous and hit mid-calf. They’re also almost always a little baggy and definitely don’t give me a defined waist. No, they are not exactly the most “flattering” but if I’m dressing for myself and feelin’ that edgy “Little House on the Prairie” look then why not? Who am I trying to impress?

The answer is nobody. I love weird clothes and I’m embracing it.

Flattering shouldn’t the be-all and end-all of fashion.

Okay, I’m also NOT saying that you need to uglify yourself in order to fight the idea of flattering clothes. That’s not the point. The point is that you shouldn’t tailor your closet around concealing your perceived flaws unless what you’re wearing does, in fact, make you feel good.

Challenge yourself.

I’m doing my part by wearing weird things in weird colors and feeling the love in roomy, baggy dresses.

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